Wing Commander Sanjeev Gupta looks over a navigation map while flying over the big island of Hawaii in an IL-76 during a training mission Sept. 20. Wing Commander Gupta is a navigator in the Indian air force. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuo
Wing Commander P. Naiwal talks about the capabilities of the IL-76 medium cargo jet to Airmen from the 15th Airlift Wing at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, Sept. 20. Wing Commander Naiwal is a pilot with the Indian air force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sg
Airmen from the 15th Airlift Wing wait to board an Indian IL-76 medium cargo aircraft for a training mission with an Indian aircrew visiting Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, Sept. 20. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)
Airmen from the 15th Airlift Wing walk out to an Indian IL-76 medium cargo aircraft with the aircraft's crew for a training mission at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, Sept. 20. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)
An aircrew from the Indian air force conducts a preflight briefing before taking off on a training mission from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, Sept. 20. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)
Indian air force pilots walk away from their IL-76 medium cargo jet after landing at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, Sept. 20. The Indian crew flew Airmen from the 15th Airlift Wing on a training mission to show the capabilities of their aircraft to their
Majors Latimer Neal and Halsey Burks from the 15th Airlift Wing at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, get a briefing in the cockpit of a Indian IL-76 medium cargo aircraft during a training mission over the big island of Hawaii Sept. 20. (U.S. Air Force photo
Major Latimer Neal gets a briefing in the cockpit of an Indian IL-76 medium cargo aircraft during a training mission over the big island of Hawaii Sept. 20. The Indian Air Force is flying members of the 15th Airlift Wing to show their American counter par
Airmen fly with Indian air force counterparts
by Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo
After several weeks of training with their Indian counterparts, Airmen from the 15th Airlift Wing got the chance to reverse their roles and fly with an Indian aircrew on their IL-76 medium range cargo jet.
The aircrew's primary mission was to deliver members of the Indian army to Hawaii for a joint training exercise. While not here specifically to train, it was an opportunity the aircrew couldn't pass up.
"Our basic aim was to make use of the time we have and interact with the Air Force people here because they are operating a similar aircraft," said Wing Commander Shuresh Sivans, Indian air force engineering officer.
With the aim of working toward the common goal of peace and stability in the Pacific region, 15th AW officials welcomed the Indian airmen to Hickam, demonstrating U.S. capabilities and techniques in both the preparation and launching of the C-17 Globemaster III.
Joint training, whether scheduled or spontaneous, keeps Pacific Air Forces focused on their expeditionary skills by teaching Airmen how to better work with and understand coalition partners.
"Once we got past the small communication problems, it was a great opportunity," said Capt. Glenn Kauffman, 15th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintenance operations officer. "What we did allows us to eliminate some of the fog and friction in case we ever have to forward deploy together."
Since their arrival, the Indian airmen watched ground crews launch aircraft, and they participated in a C-17 mission. Then the students became the teachers and they gladly took the opportunity to show the Airmen the capabilities of their IL-76 cargo jet.
Even though the Russian-made IL-76 isn't as new as the American C-17 and has a crew of seven compared to a crew of three, the Indians are proud of their aircraft.
"Today we had a great opportunity to come here, do a mission planning and get airborne in U.S. airspace with our friends from the U.S. Air Force," said Wing Commander P. S. Arora, an Indian air force pilot. "We showed them what our aircraft can do."
Maj. Halsey Burks, 15th AW chief of plans and programs agreed.
"It was a really neat experience, a once in a lifetime chance," he said. "I don't know that any of us will ever get the chance to fly on a Russian-built aircraft again."
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